Antidepressant use and Academic Achievement: Evidence from Danish Administrative Data
Speaker(s)Sonia Bhalotra (University of Warwick, United Kingdom)
LocationTinbergen Institute Amsterdam, Sydney room
Date and time
March 08, 2022
15:30 - 16:30
Abstract: We investigate impacts of antidepressant use in childhood on academicachievement at age 16 using linked register data on individuals in Denmark. Leveraging quasi-random assignment of patients to child psychiatrists with different prescribing tendencies, we find that antidepressant treatment significantly increases test scores. Treatment effects are larger and only precisely estimated for math (rather than Danish) and for girls (rather than boys). Marginal treatment effects are positive across a large part of the distribution, and the slope of the MTE curve reveals selection on unobservables into gains. Investigating heterogeneity in treatment effects on observables, we find the reverse: treatment effects are driven by the children of less educated mothers but, taking all cases rather than the marginal cases picked out by the instrument, these families are less likely to be treated. Overall, our results indicate large detrimental impacts of mental health disorders on cognitive performance, and high returns to antidepressant treatment. They are consistent with evidence that depression and anxiety have a larger impact on math performance, and that girls are more sensitive to these conditions.
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